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Conservative MP for Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo (B.C.)

Won her last election, in 2011, with 52.20% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Rouge National Urban Park Act June 19th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest. I know that the New Democratic Party is anti- pipelines going anywhere. I do not know if the member is aware, but the Kinder Morgan pipeline goes through our beautiful Jasper National Park, and has for many years. I do not think there is anyone in the House who would say that Jasper National Park is not a phenomenal treasure. The Kinder Morgan pipeline supplies 90% of the gas to the Lower Mainland. It has gone through my riding for many years.

I would ask the member this. Is she saying that Jasper National Park is less of a park because it has a pipeline that has gone through it safely for over 60 years and that pipelines and protected and treasured areas cannot coexist?

Labour June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to safe and fair labour practices. Of course, if anyone has any concerns in terms of practice, they do have the ability to make reference to the Industrial Relations Board. We have no intention of making any changes to our regulations at this time.

Veterans Affairs June 13th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, our government works very hard to ensure that Canada's veterans have access to the benefits they deserve and need.

I would like to share a recent example that a member of the Canadian Air Force shared with us. He had been receiving veteran's benefits for over 13 years. He used the toll-free number to access the benefits and services. While he did that, he received instant approval for counselling, no questions asked. He then went on and was provided with a list of counsellors. This particular veteran was very impressed and satisfied with the ease with which he was able to access these services in this particular request.

I am very proud of the services our government is delivering for veterans. I also want to congratulate the veterans affairs committee on a recent unanimous report with recommendations to help us move forward to continue to do the work we must do for our veterans.

Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have to say at the outset that I appreciate all the thought and effort the hon. member for Guelph has put into the drafting of this particular bill, and those who went before him in terms of starting the thinking around this initiative.

What he is proposing to do in the bill is expand the mandate of Service Canada to include the responsibility of informing all interested government departments and programs about the death of an individual once Service Canada itself has been informed of that death. I think we all understand that the hon. member is trying to do the right thing: finding a way to make things easier for family members when they lose a loved one.

I think it is very important that we know what the existing systems are. I think the House might find it interesting, because as we look at different bills, I think it is important to put them in context in terms of what we currently are doing.

When Service Canada is made aware of a death, it has a process in place to notify the most relevant departments, such as Canada Revenue Agency and Veterans Affairs, and programs such as the CPP and old age security, employment insurance, and Canada student loans. I would like to explain how the existing system works.

To ensure integrity and respect for privacy, Service Canada relies primarily on those who have the constitutional jurisdiction to collect this information in this particular area. That is mainly the vital statistics agencies of the provinces. The registration of births and deaths occurring in Canada is a provincial responsibility. It is these provincial agencies that issue death certificates and therefore are the most authoritative sources.

The way it works now is that every day, each vital statistics agency sends Service Canada an electronic list of the people who have died in that province. Service Canada then sends that information along to the interested departments, as I indicated before, especially the Canada Revenue Agency and Veterans Affairs, and programs such as the CPP, old age security, EI, and Canada student loans. It is estimated that about 96% of the deaths occurring in Canada are currently covered by these information-sharing agreements.

This system has been in place for several years. It is reliable, it is secure, and it was designed in a way that protects privacy. Of course, any system can be improved to make it faster and more efficient. The government is always looking at ways to make programs serve Canadians better.

Under the current process, a family member or a person acting for the estate of the deceased does not have to physically visit a Service Canada Centre to report a death. They also do not have to remember to bring along the proper documentation, including the original death certificate, at a time when we understand that they are under significant and considerable stress.

Again, I want to remind my fellow members that Service Canada already gets this information directly from the authoritative provincial sources.

To protect the privacy and the security of Canadians, the government monitors the use of social insurance numbers very carefully and severely limits the federal departments and programs that are authorized to know them.

Before we take steps that would increase this kind of personal information, we need to do a careful analysis of the potential impact of the bill. As we heard, the hon. member from the NDP raised that issue of privacy and security in her questions for the member.

I look forward to hearing the debate on this issue and to working with the member for Guelph on ways we can continue to improve the lives of Canadians.

Service Canada Mandate Expansion Act June 12th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the thought that the hon. member has put behind this bill. I have one question for him.

Having worked in the health care field, when we had a death in any of the facilities that I worked in, we always had to complete a provincial form. To what degree would this connect with the provincial responsibility in terms of vital statistics and death certificates? Has he given any thought to that sort of interplay between the federal government and the provincial governments?

Business of Supply June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have some trouble with what the member said, because he said that 14% of people in this country do not matter.

How many benefited from the working income tax benefit? It was a percentage. How many seniors benefited from the income splitting? It was a percentage of the population.

He is suggesting that families with young children who have working parents with a disparity in their incomes should not also have some of the benefits of tax policies that Canadians put forward. I would like to ask him if the seniors in his riding who benefited from the income splitting that they enjoy support his party's retracting on that one.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, what I clearly showed is a number of measures. I was on the finance committee, and we listened to many witnesses who indicated many significant measures, including a move from 15% to under 9% for families that are under the low income cut-off level. That is a huge improvement. It represents the ability for mobility in terms of how Canadians can move from low income through to having opportunities with a higher income.

What I showed and demonstrated in the early part of my speech is that income inequality is an important issue that we need to pay attention to, but it is certainly not dramatically increasing, as this motion says. We are very proud of our record on this in terms of the reduction.

Business of Supply June 10th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I am very delighted to join the debate here this afternoon. I have to start by looking at the motion that was put before us. I think there is a flaw in that very first sentence. The first sentence says, “That, in the opinion of the House, the drastic increase in income inequality...” and it went on to talk about recent governments.

I was on the finance committee. We did a pretty extensive study and we had a lot of complicated testimony. The motion starts off with a very flawed premise. I need to look at some of the statistics. I will be speaking to some of the statistics from StatsCan.

I heard the speech from the member for Toronto Centre, but I think she left that issue off in the mid-1990s and was not reflecting what has been happening more recently. Again, we have some data that is very important that we need to consider.

First, the share of the population in Canada below the low-income tax cut-off phase in 1995 was over 15% and more recently, around 2008, we are under 9%. Significant numbers of people were taken off the tax rolls. Indeed one million people, including over 300,000 seniors, have now been removed from the tax rolls.

Another statistic is on median family income, including government transfers. It was steadily worse before 1998 and it has become steadily better ever since then.

We can go into hourly average wages by gender. I know we still have some work to do in this area, but again, if we look at the graph starting in 1985 where there was a huge and significant difference, we see those graphs coming together where there is a lot less inequity in terms of wages by gender.

An important thing is the share of market income by quintile. Again there was a noticeable increase in the share going to the top 20% before 1998, but there has been very little change since then. That is an important measure.

On share of income after tax transfers, again, there are relative income gains by quintile. We had another person who talked to us about mobility, the ability for Canadians born in low-income families to move into other income opportunities. Canada has very strong measures in terms. If one is born in poverty, one does not necessarily stay there for one's whole life.

These are all measured by StatsCan. Income share of the top 1% again reflects some pretty important numbers. It was at an all-time high in the 1930s and is significantly down. There was a bit of a burst, but now we are stabilizing.

I think we have to start by looking at the premise of the question. Income inequality is an important issue, absolutely, but it is wrong to suggest that this is a situation that we all have to be fearful about. The numbers show that since the 1990s we have had some pretty good measures.

I would hasten to add that we should look at who has been in government for the last number of years. It has a large part to do with some of the policies implemented by the Conservative government. Again, one million people off the tax rolls is a hugely important number. There have been 180 tax reductions.

What the opposition members have not talked about is the report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer who said in total the cumulative changes have reduced federal taxes by $30 billion, or 12%. The low- and middle-income earners have benefited more in relative terms than the higher income earners. That is really important information.

We can look at what the NDP policies would be. The members went to the United States on an anti-trade mission to talk down our ability for the Keystone pipeline. We hear them argue against every trade agreement that comes before the House. They are anti-trade and anti-jobs. I could go on and on about the carbon tax they want to implement and the higher corporate rate for taxes. We would not have a problem with inequality if they were ever to make government, what we would have a problem with is everyone being in the low-income area because there would be no opportunities in Canada, so there would be no opportunity for inequality.

The other thing I found a bit disturbing is some of the talk I have heard today about women. I am really surprised that it is coming from the NDP.

We have choices in Canada. When my children were young, I took on a part-time job by choice. It was not that I was being suppressed; it was the fact that I truly wanted that time and opportunity to be with my children, so I took a wage reduction and went into part-time work. At that time, my husband worked a little harder to see us through. We were not rich by any means. Certainly, I did not see that it impacted my ability to be fulfilled or my career opportunities. I made a choice in terms of my children at that time.

Men make these choices also. There are times when it is women physicians, surgeons, dentists, businessmen, and women in the trades. Increasingly, this is a choice that parents will make, and it could just as well be the husband who is staying home; and increasingly it is the husband. Therefore, it is absolute nonsense for the NDP opposition to suggest that this is something that is taking us back to the Leave it to Beaver times and that it denigrates women. Whether it is the male or the female, this provides the family unit the opportunity to decide how it will work and combine careers, because as we all know, it is tough when two parents are working. It is very busy, and if there is any opportunity to help the parents in terms of what they are doing and how they are doing it, we are a government that is proud to do that.

We believe that the most effective approach to raising the incomes of Canadians and their families is to grow the economy through reducing taxes, increasing support for hard-working Canadians, promoting trade and investment, supporting key economic sectors, making education accessible and affordable, reducing barriers to labour market participation, and being strong fiscal managers. The motion that the NDP has put forward is just plain wrong and ill-conceived. As a result of our government's approach, Canadians enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. The low income rate in Canada has been declining and now sits at an all-time low. We talked about how that changed. We can look at the graphs. Those are not made-up numbers; they are available from Statistics Canada because they are important numbers. Because of these facts, Canada's economy has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to create jobs, setting the conditions for Canadians and their families to be successful.

We often talk about our labour market performance in the G7, with more than a million net new jobs created since the recession. We still have a way to go. We recognize that we have a fragile economy and we have to watch what is happening, but we believe that families are the building blocks of our society and are critical to Canada and our long-term prosperity.

Since 2006, we have provided significant tax relief for Canadian families, and economic action plan 2014 continues on that track by keeping taxes low. These tax reductions give parents greater flexibility to make the choices that are right for them and help build a solid foundation for future economic growth, more jobs, and a higher standard of living for them and their children. Canadians at all levels of income are benefiting from the tax relief measures introduced.

The New York Times recently wrote that Canadian median incomes are the highest in the world. Middle income Canadians receive proportionately greater relief than the one million low income Canadians who have been removed from the tax rolls.

There are many things that we have done, whether it is the Canada child tax benefit, the national child benefit supplement, the disability benefit, or the child tax credit. Of these investments, two-thirds go to the low income and modest income families with children.

Unfortunately, I do not have enough time to share with the opposition all the measures that create fabrics, such as the working income tax disability. They are a basket of tax measures that are targeted, that help different groups in our society in Canada to be the prosperous families and communities in the prosperous Canada that we so truly enjoy.

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I have found it a little unusual tonight, in terms of some of the comments that members of the NDP have been making throughout their speeches. On the one hand, we often hear from them how they do not have enough time to debate. We are giving them plenty of opportunity to put up speakers to put their views forward, yet they are complaining because we are not using some of our time. I think it is very bizarre that on the one hand they complain about not having enough time to debate, and then on the other hand are saying that they should not have to speak so often.

Having said that, we heard the member talk about his parents who came here, raised a family, and stayed here. They made a very strong commitment to this country, and it sounds like they took great pride in their decision to become Canadian citizens. Does the member not believe that four years provides the opportunity for a permanent resident to come here, to understand the country and make that very important decision? Is four years a good time in terms of making those important decisions about how they are going to spend their lives and where they want their citizenship to be?

Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act June 9th, 2014

Mr. Speaker, I do not know if my hon. colleague is aware, but currently many permanent residents wait for four years to make a decision. I have met many people at citizenship ceremonies for whom it was 20 or 30 years before they made that decision. Choosing to become a citizen of Canada is a very important decision and people learn to feel an attachment to the country.

Does the hon. member really believe that people with little or no connection to Canada, who have spent very little time in Canada, should really be handed Canadian citizenship? Sometimes it is through fraudulent means. Is he objecting to having some time limits around people getting to know us before they make those decisions?